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And just when we'd forgotten about Trent ...
April 9, 2003 10:22 PM   Subscribe

At 2:26 p.m. yesterday, the US House of Representatives was considering a gun control bill. In the process of complaining about "a failed Democratic amendment that would have banned gun sales to drug addicts or people undergoing drug treatment," Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-Wyoming) let slip this telling inquiry: "So does that mean that if you go into a black community, you can't sell any guns to any black person?"
posted by grrarrgh00 (61 comments total)

 
Well.. that certainly wasn't a well thought out comment
posted by RobbieFal at 10:25 PM on April 9, 2003


(via Matthew Yglesias)

I hope it caused quite a stir in the House, because it doesn't seem to have done so online. Although the House website doesn't divulge the particulars of the episode, if you go check on the floor summary in the next few days, you can find it, right at 2:26 p.m.

Why do you imagine the GOP would vote for the slur not to be stricken from the record? And am I insane, or is that offensive beyond the telling of it?
posted by grrarrgh00 at 10:26 PM on April 9, 2003


you can't even email her unless you have [or can fake] a zip code from Wyoming.
posted by jessamyn at 10:28 PM on April 9, 2003


=\
posted by Satapher at 10:34 PM on April 9, 2003


Congresscritter says something stupid, film at 11.
posted by jammer at 10:36 PM on April 9, 2003


"If I had been able to finish my sentence and my thought, it would have stated that I don't believe in stereotyping anyone, anytime, ever, for anything," Cubin said. "That's what I believe and I believe that from the bottom of my heart."

Sounds just like that guy who always tells racist jokes and follows them up with 15 minute ordeals explaining how and why he isn't a racist.
posted by Satapher at 10:47 PM on April 9, 2003


Well, that's a shame. No other way to put it, really.
posted by mmcg at 11:11 PM on April 9, 2003


Good to know we've learned so much.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:19 PM on April 9, 2003


Forgive the derail, but I couldn't help but notice the bill you linked to is meant to ban civil lawsuits against gun manufacturers. That's not exactly a "gun control bill."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:25 PM on April 9, 2003


I mean, really. When the fuck are people going to wake up and realize the power-mongering and hatred that run like poison through the veins of our society? How much difference is there between our race, class, prison, school, business, and family structures? Why don't people address the problems with the hierarchical social systems that are our bread, butter, guns, and bombs, instead of just saying that statements like this were slips of the tongue? They obviously, when added up, point out that our leaders are trying very hard to supress certain stereotypes in order to retain their public image. These stereotypes, erased from the overt language, instead translate into laws, court rulings, and random foreign invasions.

fuck.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:28 PM on April 9, 2003


Wyoming Quick Facts:

Black or African American persons, percent, 2000: Wyoming: 0.8% United States: 12.3%

Really says it all. The irony is that it's probably one of the most heavily-Republican black populations in the country.

There is a context here that is being largely missed: The point Cubin was making was in defense of Second Amendment rights for blacks. In other words, she was probably speaking more in a caustic dark humor than the Examiner story indicates. (It's similar to the argument Democrats make about how states which deny voting rights to felons are systematically excluding blacks from the democratic process. One reason that argument makes so little traction outside of progressive circles is that it's a tacit admission that proportionally many blacks have felony criminal records. When Democrats base a national campaign on this, as they did in 2000, Republicans have a field day portraying Democrats as backing the rights of criminals.) So the larger argument she was making was probably Do you even realize that the amendment you're proposing is not only dumb social engineering, but would take away self-defense rights for one of your major constitutencies? It might even have been a cheeky troll.

It was dumb and tone-deaf of her to put it this way, of course, but now perhaps you can see why the party backed her to keep the remark on the record.
posted by dhartung at 11:29 PM on April 9, 2003


All this woman wants is to help drug addled Negroes keep their access to firearms. Can't you see that?

Seriously though. Don't tell me you don't think this law wouldn't disproportionately affect poor black inner-city communities, which are also the kinds of places where you are more likely to need a gun as a law abiding citizen.

I'm not saying that all poor black are drug addicts, as the congresswoman seemed to imply, far from it. But it's important to keep in mind that this woman was trying to prevent one more law that would disproportionately affect poor minorities. She happened to express herself poorly, but that doesn't make he a bad person.

---

I also don't think people should have their rights impugned because they use drugs in general, so naturally I'm more likely to side with the opposition to this bill.
posted by delmoi at 12:10 AM on April 10, 2003


As much as I would like to believe that another high-ranking Republican has shown their true colors, it's impossible to judge what she said without more context, especially in light of dhartung's point above.

Most obviously, it's at least possible that her characterization of the bill was correct or at least a plausible reading, due to factors that are not explained in the article. I don't think it could be disputed that if the bill actually would prevent gun dealers in black communities from selling to blacks, then her statement is not racist.
posted by boltman at 12:25 AM on April 10, 2003


it's impossible to judge what she said without more context, especially in light of dhartung's point above.

dhartung's point was extremely well made.

The intent here is to obfuscate the context and run Cubin up a flagpole.
posted by hama7 at 12:48 AM on April 10, 2003


The intent here is to obfuscate the truth and put Cubin on a pedestal.
posted by eyeballkid at 1:05 AM on April 10, 2003


I cannot believe my eyes, but the New York Times offers an account of the situation which is a bit more realistic:

House Votes to Limit Lawsuits Against Gun Manufacturers

It was an analogy against stereotyping on the basis of appearance, and an unfinished sentence.
posted by hama7 at 3:26 AM on April 10, 2003


as dhartung pointed out, given the lily-white, extreme-right-wing nature of her Wyoming constituency (remember, Rep Dick Cheney from Wyoming voted against South Africa sanctions and against the liberation of Nelson Mandela, votes he was still proud of in 2000). I guess the Congresswoman could tell a watermelon joke right there, on the record, and still get re-elected.
The Honourable Senator from Mississippi Trent Lott, before his being born again as Affirmative Action supporter right on BET, was saying that MLK day "would cost the government too much money and that there were other Americans more deserving" (he was probably thinking of George Wallace), and voted just like his esteemed colleague, the Honourable Senator from Oklahoma, Don Nickles.

isn't it amazing how our Conservative MeFi friends get all defensive about ad hominem (or, in this case, ad mulierem) attacks, immediately screaming "context", "obfuscation", "we need more elements", et al whenever a Republican is under fire?

One wonders what were they doing when gentlemen like Christopher Ruddy and Rush and Drudge and the Talk Radio lynch mob were driving the political attack agenda with their elegant tactics, or where were our friends during the "Ron Brown/Vince Foster was murdered", "Hillary-is-a-lesbian", "Clinton Raped Juanita Broddick", "Webster Hubbell is Chelsea's Father" years.
posted by matteo at 4:27 AM on April 10, 2003


in 1993 Clayton Cramer wrote an article:
The Racist Roots of Gun Control

a must read on this topic.
posted by worldinflux at 4:50 AM on April 10, 2003


kaibutsu is my new hero.
posted by quonsar at 5:29 AM on April 10, 2003


Well, reading the larger comment from the NYTimes link, it looks like she just made a poorly-chosen statement. The proposed amendment would have punished any dealer who sold a gun to someone who uses or is addicted to illegal drugs. Cubin's point was, how is the dealer to know who is and who isn't a drug user? Crude racial stereotyping?

From the NYTimes article:

"[My two sons are] blond-haired and they're blue-eyed," she said. "One amendment said we couldn't sell drugs to anybody that was on drugs or had had drug treatment or something like that. Well, so does that mean if you go into a black community, you can't sell any gun to any black person? Or does that mean if my sons, because they look like — " whereupon she was interrupted by Representative Melvin Watt, Democrat of North Carolina.

I think I understand her point, which is simply gun dealers have no way of knowing who is a drug user, and could likely resort to racial profiling. She may very well be a racist (the overall tone of her comment would lead me to wonder), but her point is a sound one.

Damn that liberal NYTimes, eh? Can't trust it to report the news through its left-wing spin!
posted by UKnowForKids at 5:42 AM on April 10, 2003


Aside from the possible racist implications of this congress critter's statement there's also the issue of the bill written by and for the gun manufacturing lobby wing of the Republican party.
Ain't government of, by and for the corporations great?
posted by nofundy at 6:16 AM on April 10, 2003


I fail to see how anyone could legitimately oppose the principles behind this bill. As best as I can understand it basically says:

1) the gun manufacturers made a product that was legal for them to make and distribute
2) they can't control the actions of end users not actually in their employ
3) state and local municipalities should not be able to sue them on a liability basis in regards to 1) and 2) when negligence is not involved

The issue is one of legality. Should companies be held liable for doing something that is legal at the time, even if a product is banned later or used by an irresponsible party outside their control?

Sounds like common sense to me. And this concept has further reaching consequences. Maybe if something like this had been in place twenty years ago, we'd have more manufacturers still in business, like small plane builders. I'd bet you could name hundreds of companies that have gone out of business due to "creeping liability".
posted by insulglass at 6:20 AM on April 10, 2003


Anyone wanting to write Barb, the zipcode for Gillette Wyoming is any one of these:

82716
82717
82718

That being said, being a proud refugee of Wyoming, I point out this is the same "Babs" Cubin who surprised all the chamber in the Wyo legislature with penis shaped cookies. Rich Bitch married to a doctor, without the common sense to come out of the rain. Part of Newt's class who ran on term limits but refuses to limit herself.

"Stifle yerself, Edith...."
posted by charms55 at 6:34 AM on April 10, 2003


isn't it amazing how our Conservative MeFi friends get all defensive about ad hominem..

dhartung wrote a calm, reasoned response (as always) and hama7 simply pointed out a NYT story that backed up his point of view. How does that equate to defensiveness and "screaming", matteo? As for ad hominems, that last paragraph you wrote pretty much qualifies, IMO.
posted by MrBaliHai at 6:35 AM on April 10, 2003


Um, yeah. sorry about the outburst; suppose she was (probably) making the a good point through poor sarcasm.

However, I think some good, hard thought should be put in to this bill. I'm dubious of anything that wants to shield corporations from legal action; it's a scary precedent. And the "drugs or drug treatment" clause could easily be used against pot users and other light users, which is, in my opinion, more than a little ridiculous.
posted by kaibutsu at 6:40 AM on April 10, 2003


I also agree with insulglass that the issue of gun manufacturers' liability when a consumer misuses their product confuses me. I shed not a tear when they lose their lawsuits, but if, say, computer manufacturers were to be held liable for the activities of hackers, or automobile manufacturers to be held liable for the activities of drunk drivers, I'd be one mad motherfucker. Why should guns be any different in the eyes of the law?

[on preview: "Motherfucker" isn't in the spellcheck dictionary. Who knew?]
posted by UKnowForKids at 6:41 AM on April 10, 2003


Rich Bitch married to a doctor

Yeah, it's terrible that she would stoop to using offensive slurs that target a particular group.
posted by transona5 at 6:43 AM on April 10, 2003


What I find amusing is that if she had actually said that on MeFi instead of on the House floor, there would have been 133 posts screaming about unfair generalizations and stereotypes. Funny to see people here defend her over what would have been a virtual lynching if actually said here.

I will file this under "we all know what she meant" and move on. Living in Wyoming the only black people she's probably ever seen are on "Cops".

On preview:
I also find it amusing that the first spelling suggestion for MeFi is "Mafia".
posted by Ynoxas at 6:50 AM on April 10, 2003


The floor summary has been revised:

2:26 P.M. - WORDS TAKEN DOWN - During consideration of H.R. 1036 in the Committee of the Whole certain words used in debate were objected to and on request were taken down and read at the Clerk's desk. Subsequently the Committee rose and the Chair ruled that the words are not unparliamentary under the rules and precedents of the House. Mr. Watt (NC) appealed the ruling of the Chair, and Mr. Sensenbrenner moved to lay the appeal on the table.

"Mr. Watt appealed". Feh. JC Watt is a piece of shit.
posted by jpoulos at 7:14 AM on April 10, 2003


Should companies be held liable for doing something that is legal at the time, even if a product is banned later or used by an irresponsible party outside their control?

They aren't that is covered under the Constitution, its a little thing called Ex Post Facto, which would make such a law unnecessary and redundant. Gun manufacturers are not now and cannot be sued for such a situation, they are and can be sued however for marketing their products made for the specific use of killing people in murder prone areas, such as predominantly black inner city areas, they are also being sued for knowingly (this is the part up for debate in the suits) distributing these weapons to dealers who use illegal practices to sell their guns in said areas. That's a big difference from just making a gun and wholesaling it to a dealer who then legally sells it to a person who ends up committing a crime. They are alleged to have distributed guns through dealers who were knowingly supplying felons and gang members.

It's similar to the argument Democrats make about how states which deny voting rights to felons are systematically excluding blacks from the democratic process... When Democrats base a national campaign on this, as they did in 2000, Republicans have a field day portraying Democrats as backing the rights of criminals.

Yeah, I remember that whole "national campaign" that was soooo huge, yeah, what ever happened to that one guy that might have possibly mentioned this in a committee meeting on the hill once? I guess that "field day" is what cost the Democrats the popular vote in 2000?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:18 AM on April 10, 2003


"Mr. Watt appealed". Feh. JC Watt is a piece of shit.

That would be Melvin Watt of North Carolina. J.C. Watts is from Oklahoma.
posted by schmedeman at 7:24 AM on April 10, 2003


It was a comment which may have been perfectly acceptable, if she had not been interrupted by people ( just like a lot of the people in this thread) who wanted to jump the gun and call her a racist.
Lighten up, people. Pretty soon, we won't even have black ANYTHING in this country, since it will be illegal to even utter the word.

Imagine life without black crayons.
posted by bradth27 at 7:30 AM on April 10, 2003


That would be Melvin Watt of North Carolina. J.C. Watts is from Oklahoma.

Big difference, however, you could almost apply the term "piece of shit" universally to all the Members on the Hill.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:30 AM on April 10, 2003


That would be Melvin Watt of North Carolina.

D'oh! Well, JC Watts is still a piece of shit.
posted by jpoulos at 7:33 AM on April 10, 2003


Read it for yourself.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:31 AM on April 10, 2003


Bradth27:It was a comment which may have been perfectly acceptable ...

It was a comment that evinced a base equivocation between drug dealers/abusers and black people. The context for her point is easily understood, could feed a whole 'nother discussion on gun control and corporate liability, and is completely irrelevant, because what's shocking here isn't what she was trying to say, but what she said. It's the ridiculous psychological assumptions that her words reveal are hard-wired into her brain. I'm sorry, dhartung, the context does not in any way excuse the fact that the very first thing Cubin apparently thought of when she heard "drug dealers/abusers" was "black people." To me, this is even more telling than Trent Lott's words, because it's such a blatant Freudian slip. Her mind went instantly from "drugs" to "blacks," and her mouth followed before self-censorship set in.

Just to get some pesky "facts" out of the way, Bradth27, tell me, how did a mention of black people belong in the discussion about drug dealers and drug abusers? Is it because more black people abuse drugs than white people? No, right? That's an easy one. OK, but let's be completely objective about it. Fewer black people abuse drugs than white people because blacks are a minority population, right? But a significantly higher percentage of black people abuse drugs, right? No.

I'm actually sort of happy they left in on the record, because now, when people tell me there isn't really any racism left, I can point to that document (thanks, MrMoonPie!) and show them myself that to some of our Republican legislators, the first thing they think of when they hear "drug abuse" is "black folks!"
posted by grrarrgh00 at 8:54 AM on April 10, 2003


grrarrgh00-
Just to get some pesky "facts" out of the way, Bradth27, tell me, how did a mention of black people belong in the discussion about drug dealers and drug abusers?


Like it or not, blacks use drugs too. It's a fact. I'm not implying that the black community does more or less, nor will I waste my time quoting statistics - because it doesn't have anything to do with the discussion at hand. Again, it's jumping the gun to say that she made some automatic assumption.

Regardless of how you feel, her comment was not completed, so there is no way of knowing exactly what she meant to imply. Her comment may have very well been aimed at and against the very thing she is being accused of. However, that we will never know, since she was cut off in the middle of the point she was trying to make.
We might as well just go out and scream "racist!" at every person walking down the street. Sooner or later, we're bound to find someone who fits the bill, so.... it's justified, right?
posted by bradth27 at 9:10 AM on April 10, 2003


Being from Wyoming, this unfortunately doesn't surprise me much. I'm pretty sure Cubin didn't intend to offend anyone with the comment. The sad fact is that Cubin is simply an idiot. I think someone above mentioned her making penis shaped cookies and handing them out to house members. Another time she missed a key vote on a land swap in Wyoming due to the fact she made a doctors appointment too close to the time of the vote and didn't make it back in time.
posted by split atom at 9:32 AM on April 10, 2003


Regarding this bill the White House released a statement that read:

"The manufacturer or seller of a legal, non-defective product should not be held liable for the criminal or unlawful misuse of that products by others."

So if this law passes one can toss out those pesky tobacco lawsuits. Tobacco is legal and therefore, according to the White House's logic, if someone is stupid enough to smoke the stuff it is all their fault regardless if the manufacturer are selling poison.

As nofundy stated above "government of, by and for the corporations" does very well under this Administration.
posted by terrapin at 9:41 AM on April 10, 2003


pollomacho: the ex post facto provision in the constitution only covers criminal provisions, not civil liability. So it's not really relevant here.

But, in general, companies most certainly can be held liable for doing things that are "legal," broadly speaking, if they do them in a way that is negligent, reckless, or fraudulent. In the gun cases, there is good evidence that gun manufacturers are knowingly exploiting and profiting from the market for guns for criminal uses or for illegal resale in states that don't allow them. They are also being sued under more traditional tort grounds, such as negligent design (lack of saftey features). Finally, they are being sued on public nuisance grounds, which is a very broad, very powerful part of the common law that can be used to target entire industries in some cases. None of these claims have anything to do with the right of gun manufacturers to sell guns. They are all about the business practices used by the manufacturers and whether these business practices are a proximate cause of people being injured or killed by guns.

You know, all you conservatives should be appalled by this law since it is all about federal meddling with state tort law--an idea that would be absolutely unthinkable throughout most of American history given the states' long tradition of sovereignty in that area of law.
posted by boltman at 9:45 AM on April 10, 2003


mmmmmmmm....... cookies.....
posted by bradth27 at 9:46 AM on April 10, 2003


Bradth27: Like it or not, blacks use drugs too. It's a fact.

Who exactly is disputing that? But can you please justify this mention of race in a discussion of drug dealers and abusers?

Don't you even see how the immediate leap from "anybody under drug treatment" to "black community" perpetuates stereotypical associations that are both patently offensive and factually wrong? She did that, bradth27. She made an association that the end of her sentence, whatever it may have been, could not justify or negate. She heard "anybody under drug treatment," and she immediately brought up "black folks." I can agree that her larger point does not offend me and may indeed have merit, but in my mind, her actual words point to a sad reality.

I'm not saying that Barbara Cubin is a terrible person, and I don't think she means any greater harm to black people. I'm certain I would have no qualms having a pleasant lunch with her. But I think it's unhelpful to dismiss the apparent fact that people still do make these unwarranted linkages between, say, black people and illicit drugs.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 11:04 AM on April 10, 2003


And by people I mean, of course, some of the elected officials of the Grand Old Party and their constituents.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 11:17 AM on April 10, 2003


So if this law passes one can toss out those pesky tobacco lawsuits. Tobacco is legal and therefore, according to the White House's logic, if someone is stupid enough to smoke the stuff it is all their fault regardless if the manufacturer are selling poison.- terrapin

Pretty much. I reiterate, how can they be held liable for doing some that's legal??? Yeah, I know, the tobacco industry is rife with corruption and negligence, and it's not quite as clearcut as we'd all like it to be. But I think the general principle should still hold true.

Look, if there's something dangerous about a particular product, get the support to get it outlawed in a democratically representative manner. I personally think that it's disingenuous for states to bolster the tobacco companies just so that they can be assured of a payout in future years. Bunch of hypocrites.

In any case the tobacco settlements have gotten WAY out of hand, just like asbestos and chemical companies. Is it fair to run companies out of business? What about the trucking company in Vermont that bought some used garbage trucks that were former hauled hazardous waste - and now find themselves bankrupt due to owing millions of dollars to the Superfund cleanup?

I mourn for the loss of common sense in this country.
posted by insulglass at 11:18 AM on April 10, 2003


Heh. Cubin is no stranger to the practice of speaking before thinking. From her district's Casper Star-Tribune:

Cubin previously ran afoul of minority groups nationwide in 1995 when she compared welfare recipients to pen-reared wolves that will not leave their cages.

"Just like with any animal of the species, when you take away their freedom they can't provide for themselves,'' she said during final debate on a welfare reform act.

posted by grrarrgh00 at 11:40 AM on April 10, 2003


the ex post facto provision in the constitution only covers criminal provisions, not civil liability. So it's not really relevant here.

You are exactly right Boltman, I was responding to insulglass's terms "liable" and "legal" Performing an act that is illegal is by definition a criminal act and thus covered under Ex Post Facto, but no, you are right that no criminal charges have been filed against manufacturers for anything like that yet, so it wouldn't be exactly.

tobacco litigation is also a completely separate matter, there companies are actually accused both civilly and criminally of knowingly and willingly manufacturing a dangerous product with full knowledge of its addictive and carcinogenic properties and marketing that product to minors despite strict laws against doing so. If guns or asbestos were drugs then the two might be comparable. The asbestos companies, incidentally were found liable for producing and marketing a dangerous product after it was found to be dangerous without informing consumers of the dangers, killing thousands. Waste Management and Safety-Kleen corporations both had miles of (alleged) Enron style (assisted by, yep, Arthur Andersen) accounting fraud and irregularities long before any superfund liabilities made a scratch in their corporate profits (or debts I should say since they had no profits). That's what drove them to their dooms, not some silly clean up problems in one state (or 50 states for that matter). No the gun issues are a whole other matter all together, similar in some ways (dangerous products) but different in legal issues at stake.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:44 AM on April 10, 2003


I retract my retraction, for the record.

Throw her to the wolves on welfare.
posted by kaibutsu at 11:57 AM on April 10, 2003


Don't you even see how the immediate leap from "anybody under drug treatment" to "black community" perpetuates stereotypical associations that are both patently offensive and factually wrong? She did that, bradth27.

No, she didn't. She may have been about to do so, but her statement was never finished. We have no way of knowing what she meant to say, like it or not. When starting an argument, one has to start somewhere, and that is exactly what she did. She may have been about to make some grand analogy, or simply about to spout off ridiculously racist comments. But, as it is, where she would have ended up we cannot say. We can speculate, and call names, and jump to conclusions, but we cannot in any way say for sure what point she was about to try and reach.

Consider this; If a friend and I were discussing drugs in rural areas, and I said something like " I once had a black friend who said that-" and then was cut off. This doesn't mean that I was making a racist statement. It just means I was cut off in the middle of my sentence. What I might have been trying to say was " I once had a black friend who said that white people have no idea how to play dominoes."
Racist statement? Hell no, and I agree with him. White people suck at dominoes.
posted by bradth27 at 12:10 PM on April 10, 2003


But, as it is, where she would have ended up we cannot say.

Surely, if she was going to make some subtle point that wasn't racist, she would have explained herself after the fact, espcially now that news stories are being written about it? 'Cause it sure looks like she was in the midst of making a pretty ugly (and factually inaccurate) racial generalization.

Not nearly as bad as Lott's "we'd have be better off with segregation" but it still strikes me as pretty ignorant and insensitive.
posted by boltman at 12:30 PM on April 10, 2003


I think she's just horrible...

...at making analogies. Her points may be valid and she may not be trying to convey a racist or intolerant message, but the wording stinks. Some folks are just awful at diplomacy, this woman happens to be one of them. I actually think she thought she was making a statement against stereotyping, but ended up stereotyping in the process (both times). She should just learn to speak without analogies and she could be allright, maybe I'm wrong, but she IS from a state with a grand total of less than 4000 black people, so she has absolutely no experience of african americans so she has no common frame of reference with which to draw analogies. She probably would have little to talk to me about figuratively either, I mean, I've never seen a Butte or a wolf caged or not in my life (except for on TV or in the zoo maybe)! You wouldn't use idiomatic and figurative language if you wanted to communicate with a foreigner, why with anyone else without a common scope of reference?
posted by Pollomacho at 12:34 PM on April 10, 2003



FYI, a pal who taped Cspan (don't ask) transcribed it this way, a tad more complete than the official record:

"My sons are now 25 and 30, they're blond-haired and they're blue-eyed. One amendment today said we couldn't sell [guns] to anybody that was on drugs or had drug treatment or something like that. Well, so does that mean if you go into a black community you can't sell any gun to any black person? Or does that mean that my sons, just because they look like the boy--"
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:39 PM on April 10, 2003


What she meant to say, either way, does not matter. It is always impossible to know a speaker's or author's intentions. We cannot read her mind, so we don't know if she made the connection or not.

What we can do is interpret what she did say. It's not as damning as what Trent Lott said, but still disappointing.
posted by rocketman at 12:44 PM on April 10, 2003


Here's what she says she meant to say:

"The point I was trying to make was that because my sons look like the Columbine (High School) killers should they be prevented from buying guns and just because some black people sell drugs should all black people be prevented from buying guns?" Cubin said. "If I had not been interrupted it would have been clear."
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:47 PM on April 10, 2003


CunningLinguist -

Okay! Hey, thanks for that link. So, after reading that, I can draw a conclusion -
She's a racist butthead.

I always try to be optimistic, but.... hell, her explanation is terrible. In fact, it's worse than the original comment. I would have at least tried to come up with something that made a bit of sense.
posted by bradth27 at 12:54 PM on April 10, 2003


Explain to me again why it is that Wyoming with 475,000 +/- people and more or less 4000 black citizens has two Senators and a Rep while DC with 525,000 +/- people more or less half of which are in minority ethnic groups has no representation in Congress, and on top of that pays more in federal taxes than and equal number of citizens from any state (remember ALL DC taxes, income, sales, property, etc. go to the Federal coffers). Does it seem fair that in our urban, multi-ethnic modern culture that a woman who represents a homogenous, agricultural people living in a region with a population density similar to the steppes of Mongolia has governance over the citizens of a region with hundreds of primary languages, ethnic and religious groups living with a population density close to that of Singapore?

I would also like to retract my defense of her statement as bad diplomacy, unless this statement is equally bad! Sounds like she just needs to shut up and not say anything!
posted by Pollomacho at 1:07 PM on April 10, 2003


All right, I'll bite. I'm caught between my desire to not beat a dead horse and my desire to justify my and the Congressional Black Causus' taking offense to Ms. Cubin's words. So, suffice it to say this is my last word on the subject.

But, since the defense of Ms. Cubin rests on the principle that any criticism of her thoughts is invalid, since they were incomplete, let's assess what she claims she was trying to say. Her own words, from the Casper Star-Tribune. This is after the fact, mind you, when she's had some time to clarify her thoughts and present her position without interruption:

"The point I was trying to make was that because my sons look like the Columbine (High School) killers should they be prevented from buying guns and just because some black people sell drugs should all black people be prevented from buying guns?" Cubin said. "If I had not been interrupted it would have been clear."

Pretty much the exact point we all inferred from her words, but I won't quibble. The point I'm trying to make is that the reference to black people is absolutely irrelevant and harmful in this context because it reinforces unique associations between black people and drug abusers. I will stretch so far as to sympathize with her argument, even, as I stated before. However, the reason that she said "black people" and not, say, "left-handed" people is because she's working from and building on perceptions that "black people" are more likely to engage in illicit drug abuse, perceptions which are both offensive and factually wrong.

Furthermore, if you take issue with that assertion, and you imagine (I would argue naively) that she had no socially preconditioned reason for saying "black people" instead of "tax attorneys," what she said is still objectionable on the grounds that it is grossly irresponsible. Whether by intent or by accident, it reinforces the easily demonstrable, misinformed, harmful social stereotype that black people participate more extensively in the drug trade than other ethnic groups. For that reason alone, Cubin's remarks should have been stricken from the record.

On preview, I see I didn't need to write all this, because CunningLinguist already made the clarification. But I'll post it anyway. Although as I've said, I'm happy the remarks are still there, for future reference. These problems have not gone away.
posted by grrarrgh00 at 1:11 PM on April 10, 2003


>White people suck at dominoes.
Racist.
posted by krakedhalo at 1:51 PM on April 10, 2003


All stereotypes are inaccurate, they are not however necessarily racist, krakedhalo. A lot of times they are however. When a stereotype is degrading or demeaning to the people it talks about then, yes, it is bigoted. Last time I checked, all black people were not either crack dealers or crack smokers, strangely enough not even most of them are and what may be even more shocking, less are involved with crack than are white people, oh my GOD! Sometimes when someone makes a racist statement they really are a racist, so there is no need to defend them. Some times they might just be ignorant, so helping them see the errors in their statements helps them. This woman is one or the other, but she is definitely not off scott free, especially after her "clarification" just inserted her foot a good 3 or 4 inches farther into her gaping maw.

"White people suck at X" Yep, that IS racist to say.

"Chinese people love Chinese food." not so much bigoted as just an inaccurate statement, some Chinese people might hate Chinese food.

"All muslims are terrorists" less accurate than saying all Christians give money to Jerry Falwell, bigoted (note: not specifically racist, but bigoted, because saying all muslims are arabs or all arabs are muslims are inaccurate stereotypes). See how this works?
posted by Pollomacho at 2:14 PM on April 10, 2003


Oh hell. Everyone, just pull your panties out of your crack and stop whining.
posted by bradth27 at 3:48 PM on April 10, 2003


African Americans are arrested for drug offenses at six times the rate of whites. Maybe thats where she got the black people : drug seller analogy.
posted by pemulis at 5:14 PM on April 10, 2003


I think we can only applaud legislation that would keep guns out of the hands of upper-middle-class suburban housewives, hollywood actors with obliging doctors, and anyone who's been in and out of the Betty Ford Clinic a few times.
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:07 PM on April 10, 2003


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